South African Open Champion Morten Orum Madsen (Getty Images)
Denmark’s Morten Ørum Madsen won his first European Tour title with a two shot victory in the South African Open Championship hosted by the City of Ekurhuleni.
Madsen got his season off to the perfect start by winning the opening event of the 2014 Race to Dubai after picking up five shots in his last round, all with birdies, to finish ahead of South Africans Jbe Kruger and Hennie Otto at Glendower GC on 19 under par.
The 25 year old, ranked 244 in the world before this win, made consistent scores throughout the four days, overcoming four bogeys in his first round with just three more in the rest of the tournament.
Madsen was today playing alongside overnight leader and pre-tournament favourite Charl Schwartzel, who squandered a three shot lead to finish tied for fourth with Italy’s Marco Crespi on 16 under.
The victor said: “It’s been an amazing day. I don’t really know right now (how I feel). It’s kind of clichéd to say it hasn’t really sunk in, but it really hasn’t.
“I’m just over the moon. I’m so happy. I mean coming down here, I expected to play well but I didn’t expect to stand here ... right now, that’s for sure.”
He added: “I love the golf course. It’s pretty similar to my home course. It’s tree lined and (has) really good greens. I definitely really enjoyed it.”
Despite going round with 2011 Masters Tournament champion and eight time European Tour winner Schwartzel, Madsen said: “I definitely felt like I could still win, but he looked like he was going to go off and I was just trying to hang on and maybe stay in two or three shots and give myself a chance.
“I had a great back nine but unfortunately for him he struggled. On a couple of holes he had some bad breaks. Luckily for me I was there to capitalise and I did with some nice birdies down the stretch.”
Schwartzel today birdied the second, third and fourth to go three clear on 18 under before dropping three shots on the sixth. He double bogeyed the tenth to drop further back, but then made three birdies, although it was not enough to challenge for his first victory in this tournament.
If Schwartzel’s slump was stark, Otto’s was worse given he led by four shots with four holes to play immediately after three straight birdies. Otto, chasing his second victory in three years in the tournament, bogeyed the 15th and double bogeyed the 16th to slip out of contention with a 68.
He finished level with Kruger, whose seven under par round saw him follow an eagle at 13 with three consecutive birdies.
Crespi, playing the first event of his rookie European Tour campaign, finished with back to back 70s having been joint leader with Schwartzel at half way.
The round of the day came from South Africa’s Trevor Fisher Junior, who put together a remarkable late charge with an eight under par 64.
Fisher Jnr reeled off four birdies and an eagle at the long eighth to turn in 30, before starting his inward nine with a hat-trick of gains.
At nine under for the day the 34 year old, a seven-time winner on the co-sanctioning Sunshine Tour, had joined Schwartzel in a share of the lead and with six holes to play needed to pick up four more shots for a historic first 59 in European Tour history.
However, he could not do so, missing a short putt for birdie at 15 and a longer one at 17 for the only dropped shot of his round.